1. #1
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    Question Is this acceptable for explorers?

    Hello. As an explorer for a mid-sized (250,000 people) city...we have an annual meeting where everybody in the program gets together and talks about improvements/new ideas. I'd like to ask if we could get 'issued' SCBAs for training at explorer meetings and for practice at home.

    With that being said, I want to emphasize that I understand that explorers have absolutely no reason to be near an IDLH environment or in an area that requires an SCBA.

    If it is okay with the officer, sometimes we get the opportunity to fight a small grass fire or small car fire. Of course, this is dependent on the officer's judgement of whether the explorer needs to stay inside of the apparatus or can get out and help. In addition, we are allowed to go into a structure after the fire has been put out and air deemed 'safe' to observe and assist with overhaul.

    I've read several threads about explorers and what they can and cannot do. I am by no means, qualified to say anything about those activities (fighting small grass/car fires, and assisting with overhaul).

    I'd like to hear some opinions from the actual firefighters. Does that seem unacceptable? I could see how a car fire or performing overhaul could be more 'dangerous' than fighting a small grass fire. These are activities that our post advisor has told us we are allowed to do (with the officer's okay on it).

    As far as the SCBAs go, we normally train with them every time we meet (4 times a month). We might do a PAT test with them on or maybe a SCBA-maze/confidence course. There are a couple explorer posts around here that issue an SCBA to their explorers so that they are each assigned one (like bunker gear). The explorer brings their SCBA (just like turnout gear) to each meeting and is responsible to maintain it. They're 'required' to don their PPE every day at home just to practice.

    At the same time, there is no need for an explorer to be in an environment where an SCBA is required. However, when we do get the chance to help with overhaul or help on a vehicle fire...I'm always scared as crap about the smoke. Being 17, I'd like to hope I have a future ahead of me. I'd hate to be so into seeing/doing things right now that I get a mouthful of smoke in me. So I guess what I'm trying to ask is that...does it sound like a reasonable idea to issue SCBAs to explorers so that they can elect to use one when they would prefer to do so?

    I've seen some firefighters wear SCBAs when doing overhaul even after the air has been deemed 'safe'...but at the same time...I've seen firefighters not wear SCBAs after the air has been deemed 'safe'. As an explorer, we're obviously not required to go in on anything (such as overhaul)...but what do you think about assigning explorers an SCBA so that they can elect to use it when they feel it would be beneficial to their health?

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
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    In a word, no. There's little if any justification for "issuing" SCBA to explorers.

    SCBA is expensive and it's not a toy. It's also the sort of thing that minors shouldn't be playing with unsupervised.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Negative ghost rider.

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    That's what I was thinking...lol. What about the part about allowing explorers to fight small grass/car fires and do overhaul?

    Is that acceptable? That's why "they" tell us we can do...but I just want to hear from other people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan234 View Post
    That's what I was thinking...lol. What about the part about allowing explorers to fight small grass/car fires and do overhaul?

    Is that acceptable? That's why "they" tell us we can do...but I just want to hear from other people.
    I would say no on car fires and overhaul - with car fires you never know what is inside the car, could be HazMat in there, could have pistons for the hood etc "shoot off" (granted all these are rare but it could happen.)

    For overhaul, I would say no as well, never know if there could be a flare up, collapse of a weakened wall, ceiling, etc.

    For a small grass fire, where there is a fire in the mulch or grass in a parking lot or something like that were there isn't much chance for it to spread, then go for it. There is no reason for an explorer to be in an area that could be hazardous.

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    Grass fires? Eh, maybe I guess. The rest? Probably not. It's been said numerous times on these forums; Know and understand your state laws/regulations in reference to these operations. Do to the potential for IDLH I'm willing to bet they say no as well. Grass fires may also be a no no, technically (and this may be a bit overkill) they can be considered "IDLH". I've snuck people around that I trust to do some things they probly shouldn't have as a learning experience, just understand what the consequences could be if something goes wrong...
    Matt G.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtg55 View Post
    I've snuck people around that I trust to do some things they probly shouldn't have as a learning experience, just understand what the consequences could be if something goes wrong...
    Yes sir. That's what I feel sometimes happens to me. When we are allowed to ride out, we are assigned to a specific station and ride with a specific crew. When we ride out at the same station time after time and get to know the crew, the officer will sometimes let us do things that we might technically not be allowed to do.

    It seems partly like a trust thing.

  8. #8
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    At my department, we are allowed to do the same, if not more of the activities you listed. We also train with SCBAs and gear. HOWEVER, I do not see the need to be "issued" an SCBA to take home. It is not hard to become profficient with an SCBA without using it every day. SCBAs are very expensive and it could be a burden to your department to issue one to every explorer. If you have some just sitting around, that's cool, but you really don't need to be taking them home and risking them getting damaged, stolen, lost, etc. I would agree with you being "issued" an SCBA as long as it was to stay at the station with a lesser chance of anything happening to it.

    Keep up the good work though, don't stop coming up with good ideas, and remember that if there is something you truly believe in, fight for it. Also, great job on the spelling and grammar. It's good to see explorers that respect not only themselves but everyone else that has to read their posts.

    Explorer Assistant Chief Alisha Fern

    Leadership: The ability to guide, direct, and influence others.

    Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.


    alisha.fern@firehousemail.com

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    Default scba's

    Explorers should never be engaged in operations. our explorers respond with us but never get right on the scene. That being said - we train our explorers and make sure thay have a pack on all calls - in the event conditions change and the atmosphere becomes unsafe.

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    There is absolutely no reason to be issued SCBA. Using them for training is one thing, but other than that, absolutely not.
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
    ------------------------------------

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    Food for thought on the grass fires. I can't remember the exact figure on this, but a goodly percentage of all US wildlands firefighter fatalities have occurred in light flashy fuels, or during lulls in fire activity. If you don't believe me. The Mann Gulch Fire of 1949 is a prime example of this. 13 people including 12 smoke jumpers died in a grass fire in remote Montana. Norman MacLean wrote about the fire in his book "Young Men and Fire".

    I don't really think explorers should be helping with overhaul or car fires. My philosophy with car fires is if you are close enough to spray water on the vehicle you should be packed up until it has stopped smoking and you could theoretically touch any part of the vehicle with your bare skin without being burned. With overhaul you are trying to find the red stuff so you can cover it with the wet stuff and anytime you've got the red stuff in a "confined space" you need to be wearing an air pack. My only exception is to my personal rule about overhaul is during overhaul of an uninsulated wooden structure that you can absolutely verify there weren't any hazardous materials (wooden graineries or hay barns) and I have to be able to adequately ventilate it with a positive pressure ventilation fan. If the fan can't provide adequate ventilation, then SCBAs will still get used. I also don't think explorers should be forming wildlands handcrews like they do on the west coast, but there is nothing wrong with explorers learning basic firefighting skills by extinguishing a low risk mulch, brush, or single tree fire like one poster mentioned.

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    I am currently an explorer so don't put too much weight to my opinion but, I have been in on quite a few overhauls and have put water on a few small grass fires. Our post is cleared to do overhaul when the structure has been declared a non-IDLH. And most of our explorers are able to do anything that doesn't require a pack and a mask. As to explorers being issued personal masks...no way. The fewer opportunities to get in trouble the better. Having personal masks makes it way too easy to get in trouble. Just my ideas and experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer Asst Chief Fern View Post
    At my department, we are allowed to do the same, if not more of the activities you listed. We also train with SCBAs and gear. HOWEVER, I do not see the need to be "issued" an SCBA to take home. It is not hard to become profficient with an SCBA without using it every day. SCBAs are very expensive and it could be a burden to your department to issue one to every explorer. If you have some just sitting around, that's cool, but you really don't need to be taking them home and risking them getting damaged, stolen, lost, etc. I would agree with you being "issued" an SCBA as long as it was to stay at the station with a lesser chance of anything happening to it.

    Keep up the good work though, don't stop coming up with good ideas, and remember that if there is something you truly believe in, fight for it. Also, great job on the spelling and grammar. It's good to see explorers that respect not only themselves but everyone else that has to read their posts.

    Agreed about 99.5%.

    I don't see any reason that an explorer should be issued an SCBA. For our department, if we are having a training where SCBA is going to be needed we'll grab what we need off of our third out engine, so as not to disrupt crews if there was to be a call. Even if one were to be assigned, and I'm "overruled" by a majority, it shouldn't be taken home.

    As for your other points/questions:
    All of those seem quite risky for an explorer to take part in. Of course, there are too many "what-ifs" involved, and that's why it should be up to the IC.

    However, car fires (I would say) would be the one thing that should be a no-no to all explorers. Chances are there (while slim) that pistons could fly off, bumpers go off, even airbags... Not to mention traffic if it's actually on a road and not in a parking lot.

    I would think that there is some sort of policy with your post about what they can and can't do, every post will be different depending on insurance... But the Boy Scouts/Learning for Life would have a fit if they knew an explorer was put in "Danger"...
    Mike Kelly
    Altoona Fire Department
    Explorer Post 800
    Altoona, Wisconsin

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    Our Explorers work with SCBA, and are required to throw it in 1 minute or less. SCBA is used for simulated smoke conditions, basement search drills, firefighter survival drills and forcible entry/exit drills. I see no need to take them home.....there is no need for line personnel to take them.

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    I'd have to say no to getting one "issued" to you. SCBA's are quite expensive, and you have to look at it from a department point of view, WHAT IF something happened to it? (damaged,lost,stolen,etc.) Training with them at the fire house if perfectly fine. My department tries to get the juniors as much experience as possible with tools, PPE, and SCBA's so when it comes time for them to go through the state training, they have an idea of what to do and what to expect.

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    I don't see the need in bringing an SCBA home. Besides all the reasons stated here , I feel like there are some explorers who don't have the best judgement and could break it or actually be dumb enough to try to go into an IDLH situation with the departments SCBA and then the department is liable for anything and anything that happens.

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    I have a lot of experience in the Fire Service, especially in the Explorer/Junior FF role. I have been doing this for about 5 years and am about to become a firefighter. In my experience, I have never heard of SCBAs being "issued". It should stay that way, for several reasons.

    #1. SCBAs are very expensive and are not a toy, like several people have metioned here. Although, you would be responsible for the maintence of that SCBA, it still should not be allowed. They're to expensive to just buy SCBAs for Explorers.

    #2. Most Departments do not have enough SCBAs to spare. Like my department, all of the SCBAs are on the trucks. So if you issue Explorers SCBAs, we would be short SCBAs.

    #3. SCBAs are very dangerous. They contain compressed air which could explode if over filled. Anything with a compressed air or gas is dangerous.

    I understand your reasons for wanting this though. Like you mentioned, have them for practice. Training is very important. As you want to train to stay alive. Gear drills, sometimes referred to as Bunker Drills or 2 minute drills; in my state, it is a State Requirement for you to have all your gear on and breathing air in under 2 mins. So practice is very important. Even just getting used to using it and breathing with is imoprtant. Just go down to the firehouse to do this training when you want to.

    As far as your other question goes, most of those situations depends on the Officer. Unless your Explorer SOGs/SOPs restrict you to operate in those situations. In my department, our Chief will let us go in and assist in Salvage and Overhaul operations after the fire is mostly out and it is safe. Most of the time, he will put us on the nozzle with a senior firefighter and we hit hotspots. Either when the air quality is deemed safe or not, we will wear SCBAs. Car fires are really the Officer's decision; if he says it is ok then we can be the back-up man on the line. Grass fires are really no problem, we get to fight fire on those all the time. Unless, it is an extremely windy day with rapid moving fire condtions then our younger Explorers have to stay by the truck.

    I just thought I would give my two cents on that.

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    Well if you want to get right down to the actual answer here, No you should not even be allowed to fight a small grass fire or car fire if your truly an explorer post you would be violating there rules regardless of what your posts SOP/SOG say you can do. If your a Jr. Firefighter then your well I personally am not to sure i was an explorer for like 2 years and an Jr Firefighter for only 3 months as I joined 3 months before my 18th birthday. So if your an Jr. Firefighter then I would assume its up to what your states child labor laws say, and of course what your insurance company has to say about you being near car fires or brush fires lets not also forget the SOP's that your department might already have in place for you Jr Firefighters.

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    Check your child labor laws.

    You'll find that you probably can't fight any fire.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    I know even members on the dept are not allowed to fight fire at ALL until they have completed 60hour entry level training. What we are doing with our explorers is showing them the basics, and making things fun for them, while learning at the same time. Only one of our firefighter leaders are a state instructor, so we are not really "training" them but showing them how things are done and having some fun. If you are a post through the BSA then I belive NO FIRE is the rule. Far as the SCBA thing, if you have to take it home and practice with it to become efficient with it you can't figure things out very well, or have way too much time on your hands.

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    I agree, my explorers were given the privilege of assisting with clean up of equipment, refilling scba, and hose maintenance. At the discretion of the ics they may be able to enter a house post burn and visualize the damage for educational purposes as a reward for their hard work. They also had the privilege of using fire department training simulators, gear, scba ect if they treated it with respect and returned it better than found. Some years this didn't happen because we had an immature group. Maturity and rapport has a ton to do with how much they got to do. But never! used as staff. Thats unsound practice.

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    HERE HERE......

    I like that..."the PRIVILEDGE" of helping......and "NEVER AS STAFF, Thats unsound practice".....

    Apparently some got it!.....

    same as what ChiefKN said too....

    My way of seeing it is this.....

    Firefighters don't use SCBA by themselves right?......why?...safety concerns..the what ifs.....SO, why / how could any teenager be expecting to take "home" an expensive piece of equipment, and "train " on it?....

    Not only that...but why should Juniors / explorers be worrying a bout it at all?..No Instructors....NO "playing"..simple.....

    and Juniors / explorers don;t NEED any gear or equipment...

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    [QUOTE=Northern Lights FF;1271397]HERE HERE......

    I like that..."the PRIVILEDGE" of helping......and "NEVER AS STAFF, Thats unsound practice".....


    Firefighters don't use SCBA by themselves right?......why?...safety concerns..the what ifs.....SO, why / how could any teenager be expecting to take "home" an expensive piece of equipment, and "train " on it?....
    /QUOTE]



    I actually agree with you on that.

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    Our regular volunteers don't even have issued SCBA's...

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    There is no reason explorers should be issued SCBA. As for fighting small grass fires, car fires, and overhaul I do not agree with that either. Remember, "There will always be fires to fight".

    Stay safe

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